A proposal to connect Montreal to Boston by train will run through Maine.
In this Dec. 14, 2021, file photo, a passenger boards the Amtrak Downeaster passenger train in Freeport. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Mainers could see easier rail access to Montreal if a new passenger train running from there to Boston secures backing.

The proposed route would run east from Montreal to Sherbrooke before crossing the border into northeastern Vermont to Gorham, New Hampshire, and passing through Bethel, Auburn, Portland and Old Orchard Beach on the way to Beantown, according to the Montreal Gazette.

The 14-hour trip would be double the time it takes to drive from Montreal to Boston, but advocates say it would appeal to those who don’t want the hassle of driving or can’t drive. A one-way ticket would cost about $212, cheaper than airfare, the Gazette reported.

A recent study estimated that the train could see 2,000 passengers a day between Montreal and Sherbrooke, while a 1,000 a day would travel between Montreal and Boston, according to the newspaper.

The train would use existing freight rail corridors, and if the project secures backing and funding, work would begin first on the Montreal-Sherbrooke leg, which is estimated to cost $100 million. Still, the project remains in its infancy.

While the goal is to shuttle Canadians to Boston, its Maine stops could prove popular, as coastal towns like Old Orchard Beach have long been popular with tourists from the north and the existing train station in Old Orchard Beach is right near the water.

A meeting with local and regional officials from both sides of the border will meet Sept. 1 to discuss the matter. Maine state Rep. Lori Gramlich, a Democrat who represents Old Orchard Beach, will attend, according to the Gazette.

Gramlich told the Quebec newspaper that the expanded rail service could help reduce carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels.

That discussion comes as passenger rail advocates push for expanding train service deeper into Maine.

Earlier this month, the Maine Rail Transit Coalition presented a proposal to a Maine Department of Transportation advisory panel to expand train service from Portland to Auburn along the idle St. Lawrence & Atlantic corridor.

President Joe Biden’s 2021 infrastructure plan had raised hopes to return regular rail service to Rockland after similar plans had fallen apart in the past.

Another long-sought goal for boosters of passenger trains has been connecting Bangor to the larger Amtrak network. Different proposals have been made to the Bangor City Council and Maine Legislature to explore reviving rail service to the Queen City, including most recently last year.